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Version 0.2 0.1 February March 25, 18, 2013 2013
Raj Malik, David Cohen, Jim Raj Donovan, Malik, Jim Erin Donovan, Newkirk, Katie Anthony Shea, Hughes Heddie Erin Cundle, Newkirk, Kelly Fallis, Shea, Katie Joanne Heddie Wilson, Cundle, Robert Kelly Hatta, Fallis, David Joanne N. Feldman, Wilson, Will Robert Fuentes, Hatta, Cary Scott, N. David Samuel Feldman, Gerace, Will Fuentes, Bob Hurwitz Cary Scott, Samuel Gerace, Bob Hurwitz
“Extremely helpful.” Editor: Editor: Michael de la Maza,
-- Jenny Jung, Chief Product Officer, Factory (factoryberlin.com)
Michael de la Maza, firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 617 575 9707
617 575 9707 www.linkedin.com/in/michaeldelamaza/ www.linkedin.com/in/michaeldelamaza/
Essays..................................................................................................................... 3 The Mentor Manifesto (David Cohen)............................................................. 4 Positioning Your Startup for Sale? Get a Mentor! (Raj Malik) .......................... 6 Five Types of Mentors (Michael de la Maza) ................................................ 11 Goal Questions (Jim Donovan) .................................................................... 14 5 Characteristics of Great Mentors (Anthony Hughes) ................................. 15
Entrepreneurs (Mentees)....................................................................................... 17 Erin Newkirk ............................................................................................... 18 Katie Shea................................................................................................... 20 Heddie Cundle............................................................................................. 22 Kelly Fallis.................................................................................................... 25 Raj Malik...................................................................................................... 28
Mentors ................................................................................................................ 30 Joanne Wilson............................................................................................. 31 Robert Hatta ............................................................................................... 33 David N. Feldman ....................................................................................... 37 Will Fuentes and Cary Scott ........................................................................ 39 Samuel Gerace ........................................................................................... 43 Bob Hurwitz .............................................................................................. 46
Want to contribute?............................................................................................... 48
About the Editor.................................................................................................... 49
How to be a Startup Mentor
How to be a Startup Mentor
The Mentor Manifesto (David Cohen)
Editor’s note: This essay is reprinted with permission from http://www.davidgcohen.com/2011/08/28/the-mentor-manifesto/
I’ve been running TechStars for six years now. I’ve watched eleven batches of companies interact with hundreds of mentors. Because of that mentorship (focused on amazingly talented companies) we’ve seen those companies go on to raise about $100M in funding (averaging about $1M each post TechStars). In that time, I’ve witnessed thousands of mentor interactions, from some of the best entrepreneurs and investors on the planet. As a result, a while back, I wrote about the best ways for entrepreneurs to engage great mentors.
With this post I’m looking at the other side of the equation. What does it mean to be a great mentor? What mentor behaviors lead to great mentorship? What I’ve tried to capture here is essentially a set of mentor behaviors that seem to lead to the best results. When mentors do these things, relationships blossom and companies flourish. When they don’t, it’s often a struggle.
So, here’s what entrepreneurs can and should demand from their mentors. And here’s what mentors should consider if they want to build effective relationships with the entrepreneurs they’re working with. Rather than discuss each point, I thought I’d take a first crack at this “mentor manifesto” and let people react in the comments. Perhaps in the future I’ll dive into these behaviors, but for now I think they mostly speak for themselves.
How to be a Startup Mentor
The Mentor Manifesto
• Be socratic. • Expect nothing in return (you’ll be delighted with what you do get back). • Be authentic / practice what you preach. • Be direct. Tell the truth, however hard. • Listen too. • The best mentor relationships eventually become two-way. • Be responsive. • Adopt at least one company every single year. Experience counts. • Clearly separate opinion from fact. • Hold information in confidence. • Clearly commit to mentor or do not. Either is fine. • Know what you don’t know. Say I don’t know when you don’t know. “I don’t know” is preferable to bravado. • Guide, don’t control. Teams must make their own decisions. Guide but never tell them what to do. Understand that it’s their company, not yours. • Accept and communicate with other mentors that get involved. • Be optimistic. • Provide specific actionable advice, don’t be vague. • Be challenging/robust but never destructive. • Have empathy. Remember that startups are hard. Thanks to Jon Bradford and Brad Feld for helping me think about the Mentor Manifesto and for contributing ideas to it. Now I’d like to hear your ideas in the comments.
How to be a Startup Mentor
The act of selling your company or even a part of it is not something to be done alone by an entrepreneur. If you do not have a mentor for your business. however.go. This brings me to the situation when you are examining the option to sell your company. A single mentor is not enough.Positioning Your Startup for Sale? Get a Mentor! (Raj Malik) Editor’s note: This essay is reprinted with permission from http://www. As always.co/articles/co-exclusive/positioning-your-startup-for-a-sale It is almost universally known that as a startup or business owner. then you are at the least making it harder for your business to succeed and at worst are setting yourself up for failure. had a mentor for managing employees. Many people may argue that having a mentor is mandatory in business in order to even have a chance of succeeding. I recommend situation specific or subject matter mentors. a different one for customer experience and service and yet another one for operations. there are lots of people who will be happy to give you unsolicited and generally unhelpful guidance if you are in the position to sell your company. will take it one step further. Here is a good article about all the ways mentors can help a startup. Based on my experience. What I mean by this is I. I fall squarely in that camp. Each of these mentors helped me in those specific subject matter areas. This is yet another area where having a mentor that How to be a Startup Mentor 6 . As you can see all different situations that are part of operating and running a business. for example. having a mentor can be tremendously valuable. I.
How to be a Startup Mentor 7 . That happens because they are all looking out to make sure their own interests are taken care of during a sale. That being said each of these constituencies have their own agendas/biases that can get an entrepreneur off track. In other instances I have seen entrepreneurs look to their investors. Don’t get me wrong. They are actually doing themselves and their company a disservice.has been through the specific experience of selling a company can be tremendously helpful to an entrepreneur. I have actually watched as the potential buyer on the other side of the table (uncomfortably) as an entrepreneur literally made it up as they went along during negotiations. This is vitally important because during any sale process an entrepreneur inevitably gets pulled in numerous directions by each of the important constituencies. Here are some of the ways that mentors can help entrepreneurs that are examining the sale of their company. the management team. those are all very important parts of the team for a sale and should absolutely be consulted. 1. Have A Mentor As An Unbiased Source of Guidance I have seen entrepreneurs first-hand fly blind through the sales process and it is not pretty. This is where an entrepreneur can use a mentor to try to get unbiased guidance on a range of issues that inevitably arise during the selling process. or Board as their sole source of guidance during a sale process. Even if the mentor’s role is only to point out to the entrepreneur that each constituency involved has a bias and that the entrepreneur needs to recognize that bias there is significant value in that alone. Sometimes having someone just point out to the entrepreneur that this is the perspective that a certain constituency is probably coming from can help the entrepreneur understand and then appropriately respond to those perspectives.
I was lucky enough to have a mentor that had been through multiple sales and also acquisitions of companies. Getting Guidance From a Mentor That Has Walked The Sale Road Before I highly recommend that when looking for a mentor if you are nearing or involved in a sales process look for someone that has previously sold a company. A Mentor Can Give Amazing Practical Guidance That Can Save a Deal The importance of getting a mentor who has sold their own company is also that they inevitably have specific practical tips that they can give to you as the entrepreneur to help in your own sales process. Often knowing that the bumps are ahead in the road is half the battle because that eliminates those unpleasant surprises. These very practical tips can range from the positioning of the sales pitch. This is the wealth of experience that a mentor can bring in conveying to you what to expect when you as the entrepreneur encounter similar and related bumps. we will do the deal. The value of that “insider’s” view to selling their own company and how that can help you as an entrepreneur in your own sales aspirations cannot be understated. the approach to different levels and stages of negotiations within a potential buyer.2.” These insider tips can really be the difference at critical times of making sure a deal survives and does not crater during the inevitable issues that arise in nearly every sale. 3. There just is no replacement for real experience walking down that road and experiencing all of the bumps that inevitably arise during a sale process for a company. handling and getting around potential “deal killing” issues all the way to common sense ways to get buyers to the point where they finally say “yes. How to be a Startup Mentor 8 .
At times during a sale process an entrepreneur is simultaneously trying to balance the interests of the potential buyer(s).4. There are times when an entrepreneur can feel like they are stuck on an island wondering who is looking out for them. exhausting and pressure packed roller coasters. Further. A mentor’s ability to bring that important perspective and calmness to an entrepreneur can help keep transactions on track while also minimizing emotional decisions that are made due to stress. Mentors Can Help Keep You Balanced During The Major Stress of a Sale I have seen sale processes for entrepreneurs become highly emotional. How to be a Startup Mentor 9 . pressure. and being overwhelmed. management. A good mentor that has gone through a sale process before can provide invaluable guidance here on the tricky task of trying to balance all of these constituencies. friends and family investors. Board members. VCs. early investors. Balancing Multiple Constituencies is Made Easier with a Good Mentor A lot of times the stress of a sale of the company is driven by the fact the entrepreneur is literally being pulled in a hundred directions. customers and partners. This leads to the entrepreneur making bad decisions. 5. this is where a mentor can help as well with the very important part of guiding the entrepreneur to communicate to each of these parties all in a manner that reduces the risk of the transaction being hung up on one constituency’s demand or misunderstanding. The right mentor can help keep the entrepreneur focused on the ultimate goal that generally is completing a sale. a business owner can get overwhelmed. disgruntled shareholders. When an entrepreneur is stuck in this unenviable position of balancing all of these interests. This is where a mentor can step in and assist an entrepreneur to help keep issues in perspective. employees.
How to be a Startup Mentor 10 . A good mentor with a strong network here literally can help make the difference between a sale closing or a transaction that never gets done. This is where an entrepreneur can turn to the mentor and ask the mentor to speak to a constituency on the entrepreneur’s behalf or have the mentor reach out to a mutual contact of the constituency to try to calm and allay the issue. an entrepreneur needs to call in reinforcements. Sometimes it is for the reason of trying to “save the deal” or it may be finding a person that can help calm a constituency that is threatening to hold out on an issue. look me up on Twitter at @rajmalikdc or find me on LinkedIn and I can help you find one. I so strongly recommend getting a good mentor on your side when you go through a sale of your startup or business.6. If you are at a loss and cannot find one for some reason. Wrap Up It is for all of these reasons (and probably a few more). A Mentor’s Network and Ability to Run Interference Can Save the Day In Tough Situations At times during the sale process.
• Guide: This mentor helps the entrepreneur map out the startup journey. • Figurehead: This mentor is famous in the industry and increases the entrepreneur’s credibility simply by being associated with them. What mentors does an entrepreneur need and when do they need them? At the very beginning. Sean Parker would probably not be an excellent user experience Functional expert. and customers. partners. Here are five different types of mentors: • Thinking partner: The entrepreneur bounces ideas and plans off this mentor to get feedback. • Functional expert: This mentor provides help in a specific area (user experience. Mentors of different types are neither fungible. recruiting. nor comparable. Thinking partners and Guides will tend to be the most relevant and How to be a Startup Mentor 11 .) • Connector: This mentor connects the entrepreneur to investors.Five Types of Mentors (Michael de la Maza) Mentors come in many flavors. To give an extreme example. etc. but he might be a world-class Figurehead. Knowing which mentor an entrepreneur needs and what kind of mentor you are is critical to forging a successful relationship. social media marketing.
This stems from the incorrect belief that being an entrepreneur is about raising money instead of building a business. I found that several of them had very negative experiences with entrepreneurs who just wanted to “use” them to reach investors. your interaction with the entrepreneur will wax and wane. what you offer might be of great value while at other time it may be of little value. Connectors and Figureheads are most useful. While each mentor is different. How to be a Startup Mentor 12 . Use the questions in the next essay to achieve understanding that goes way beyond the entrepreneur’s pitch. here are three suggestions that I have found many mentors to appreciate: • Operate at the highest level of abstraction possible. Because startups need different types of support at different times in their journey. Staying self-connected and authentic when an entrepreneur asks for help in raising money will pay long-term dividends. Work to improve the system of work that the startup is implementing and the way that the entrepreneur thinks and solves problems. Functional experts come to the fore. In speaking to fellow mentors. Not one mentor I interviewed for this pamphlet said they were mentoring primarily for the money. either in the form of seed financing or users. Finally. when raising an A round and beyond. One of the greatest mistakes entrepreneurs make is to think that all mentors should be Connectors and that all Connectors should introduce them to investors who will invest. At some points in the startup’s arc. Managing your own emotions as the entrepreneur’s needs fluctuate is a critical part of being a successful and happy mentor. As the startup gets traction.helpful. • Don’t do it for the money.
Be a “true mirror” to your entrepreneur.• Listen and reflect back what your hear. How to be a Startup Mentor 13 .
What are other people’s goals for you? 5. I have found it very useful to hear the answers that entrepreneurs give to these questions. 1. What are your “ déjà vu» goals? (Goals that you have put on your list of things to achieve year-in and year-out. What are your “Fairy Godmother” goals? (Goals that seem to be impossible to accomplish but you would love for them to happen) 6.) 9.Goal Questions (Jim Donovan) Editor’s Note: Jim Donovan of jdleadership. What are your “Hell Yeah!” goals? (Goals that if you achieved them you would have that experience. What are your embarrassing goals? 8. What are your logical goals for 2013? (Things that make sense for you to achieve) 3.com uses these questions in his leadership coaching. What are your secret goals? (Goals that you never tell anyone) 7. What are you big dream goals for 2013? (Don’t hold back here) 2. What do think your goals should be? 4. As a mentor. and somehow they never get accomplished) How to be a Startup Mentor 14 .
you could wait a How to be a Startup Mentor 15 . wait 24 minutes. Moreover. Then if you become a Zen master of optimism. 2. mentors can draw on this mindset when faced with the imperfections and frustrations of working with entrepreneurs early in their company’s development. “We make a living by what we get. “A Good Mentor Never Tramples on Big Dreams”: “When someone gives you an idea. an organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs in the MIT community. we’ve identified the following five characteristics of great mentors: 1. we’ve had the opportunity to learn from others around the country and develop some of our own philosophies. it’s critical that a mentor has a desire to build a vibrant economy by supporting the business leaders of tomorrow. In particular.” A great mentor understands that mentoring provides a reward that’s different from their career success—the very thing which gave them the credibility to be a business mentor in the first place. In the process of founding and growing the program.5 Characteristics of Great Mentors By Anthony Hughes Director. In fact. We make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill once said. If you can do that. They have a desire to give back. They are believers and supporters. We have 33 mentors actively engaged in supporting some of the region’s most promising tech startups. try to wait just 24 seconds before criticizing it. Great mentors think first about all the ways a business idea might work rather than all the reasons why it could fail. JumpStart Mentoring Program The JumpStart Mentoring Program was formed in partnership with MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service. VC firm CEO Tony Tjan captured it well in a New York Times article.
A great mentor strives to build rapport. A great mentor recognizes the need to form a relationship with an entrepreneur. humility and genuine interest in the entrepreneur and the realities of their life. a mentor can lead a mentee through a process of discovery and. through humor. and spend that time thinking about why something actually might work. s/he cannot have an open and honest discussion about the challenges the business faces. a mentor can be more confident that they can thrive and grow on their own. by asking thoughtful questions. at times. 4.” It’s not enough to simply tell a mentee what to do. it takes two parties to make things work. at the same time. How to be a Startup Mentor 16 . Until a mentor has a relationship that is rooted in trust. A great mentor is a curious soul. They teach with questions. Like a teacher energized by a great student—and a student who excels because of a certain great teacher—a great mentoring relationship is a virtuous circle. 5. 3. They are relationship builders. Great mentors are made by great mentees. you are choosing to join an entrepreneur on their journey of discovery and. it’s not enough to only get to know the business. This is also known as the “Socratic Method. foster the vitally important attribute of selfawareness. learn side by side with them. Mentoring tech startups rewards the inquisitive with opportunities to be exposed to new technologies and innovative business models. they are the yin to each other’s yang. Instead. They are lifelong learners.day. Like any relationship. It’s not enough to simply advise a company. When mentees are more self-aware.” Effective mentors must put aside cynicism and skepticism and think first about all the ways the big dreams of their mentees just might work. as a mentor.
Entrepreneurs (Mentees) How to be a Startup Mentor 17 .
it should provide tools that make the world a better place. and the rest is history. So.Erin Newkirk What is your name.com I am an avid reader of Joanne’s blog—gothamgal.com—and thought there was a fit with where I was planning on taking our business.com/in/erinnewkirk What VC firms or angel investors have you worked with? Joanne Wilson gothamgal. I sent her a short email. Think about your offering and how at the core. Joanne always helps us see the bigger picture. Joanne complements that nicely by asking ‘what’s the platform behind your idea?’ In other words. asking her out to breakfast. clicked. LinkedIn URL. How to be a Startup Mentor 18 . and current position? Erin Newkirk Co-Founder / CEO Red Stamp http://www. Provide a specific example of an interaction with a mentor. we want to solve problems. Meaning that she would be interested in what we were doing and I knew we would benefit from her guidance. it’s not just about solving “x” problem for “y” audience…it’s about solving “x” problem for the world. We met. As entrepreneurs.linkedin.
and Functional expert. Thinking partner. How to be a Startup Mentor 19 .Approximately how frequently do you communicate with someone who mentors you? Once a week What kinds of mentors have you worked with? Connector.
2009 to current. Who has mentored you? David Feldman .richardsonpatel. and redlining contracts and legal documents. everything from intellectual property to distribution deals to business partnerships. Approximately how frequently do you communicate with someone who mentors you? Once a week How to be a Startup Mentor 20 . Given his legal background.linkedin.com . provided appropriate introductions.http://www.com/in/katiesheasays. Founder & President of The Strategic Exchange. Former Co-Founder at CitySlips. and current position? Katie Shea . He always makes sure that we are protected and entering into fair legal contracts. had strategy brainstorms with us.Katie Shea What is your name. Current Director of Marketing at OrderGroove.www. and been a friend and advisor throughout the ups and downs of starting and growing our company. Provide a specific example of an interaction with a mentor. David has given us invaluable advice. David has provided us with valuable insights and time formulating. LinkedIn URL.Richardson & Patel .
” What kinds of mentors have you worked with? Thinking partner.How did you come to work with a mentor? We met David through a networking group I was invited to join as an NYU student called “The Strategic Forum. Functional expert. Figurehead. Connector. How to be a Startup Mentor 21 .
co/nathan • Sam Rehman for technology: www. and current position? Heddi Cundle Big Cheese.Heddie Cundle What is your name.co (yes. Who has mentored you? We have great mentorship from our advisory board: • Virender Ahluwalia re business & finance: https://angel.com/in/samrehman How to be a Startup Mentor 22 . LinkedIn URL. yet talked with many VCs and Angels who are interested in myTab.linkedin. myTab.co) www.co/virender-ahluwalia • Nathan Beckord re start ups and networking: https://angel. .com/in/heddicundle What VC firms or angel investors have you worked with? We’re bootstrapping.co/mytab & https://angel.linkedin.co/heddi-cundle We’ve discussed our objectives and mutually agreed growth plans for future investment opportunities. We have a profile on https://angel.
The features and objectives are still the same. saving.com/pub/ken-swanton/0/38/97b • Tom Foremski for media & branding: www. The verbiage was critical in our website content. We were presuming customers would be self-inspired in both areas. yet now are upgrading our design to funnel these two core pointers and guide the customer with a stronger visual approach. booking travel—combined. content on the website. Our mentors have rallied together continuously so we can pinpoint this flow growth and this has opened our eyes to expansion possibilities. core pages to focus on and create a stronger user experience. Since we’re a unique and stand-alone online travel gift card. yet with new funnel step-by-steps.siliconvalleywatcher. something as simple as analytical assessment has resulted in our mentors creating a new flow system that we can truly capture in a more transparent way. Each is outstanding in their own respective fields and that has accumulated in great call-to-action combined. Combining our ongoing efforts with their feedback gave us a huge understanding of splitting ‘gift friends’ to ‘gift me’ as a new feature set we’ll introduce shortly. All mentors have been imperative with a second set of eyes in visualizing myTab from a customer’s point of view. inspirationally led.• Ken Swanton for travel: www.com All have mentored myTab. we’re pioneering into a new style of gifting. this will give us a greater understanding of the drop offs. Provide a specific example of an interaction with a mentor. One specific challenge has been explaining myTab to customers. UI/ UX and user flow. So in theory. How to be a Startup Mentor 23 .co for the past 2 years. It’s an incredibly exciting time for us to be enhancing our design yet this simple solution would not have been possible with our advisors/mentors digging deep with our team to pinpoint bottlenecks in flow.linkedin.
We knew Tom Foremski prior to launching myTab and from discussing the concept. What kinds of mentors have you worked with? Thinking partner. Sam’s been our backbone from day one. He was the first person we ran myTab by and with his exceptional experience with start ups & large corporations. through a wrong phone number dialed. Within moments. If it wasn’t for Sam Rehman. We met Virender Ahluwalia at Tie MeetUp and instantly connected. Nathan Beckord was. and Figurehead. we knew we had a great match and incredible mentorship in the making from his vast experience with start ups and large corporations.How do you compensate mentors? Equity. How to be a Startup Mentor 24 . Tom readily agreed to be our advisor/mentor in media. How did you come to work with a mentor? Our methods for finding mentors/advisors was not through the typical referral or prior working relationship process. we stopped the search immediately. and one day…a lot of champagne! Approximately how frequently do you communicate with someone who mentors you? Two to three times a week. Connecting with Ken Swanton was actually through his recommendation for a team player yet after discussing myTab with him and his phenomenal credentials in travel. we knew Nathan’s expertise and networking stance was what we needed. myTab wouldn’t have started. Our answer was Ken. After a great initial conversation. Functional expert. oddly enough.
Doug Cooper (ex Intel). not to mention his high How to be a Startup Mentor 25 . and back to start again! I jumped at the opportunity to work with Rob Gorrie. RemoteStylist. LinkedIn URL. manually making sure information was reflected from one area to the next. would be of huge benefit. and current position? Kelly Fallis Founder & CEO.. While I was fully able to execute before it was easily adding an extra one to two hours per client per day to my list of things to-do.linkedin.Kelly Fallis What is your name.com/in/kellyfallis Who has mentored you? I’ve been really lucky to have a lot of advisors. Rob Gorrie (ex Adcentricity) and Elaine Kunda (ex B5 Media).com http://ca. but I’ve also go my two more everyday go-to mentors.. almost physically lifting them from one bucket to the next. I was therefore severely limited in how quickly I could take users from start to sale to delivery. Jim Meenan (ex ATT) and Roger Davis (ex ATT). essentially having to manually takes users through the process of buying furniture and designing a space. Two Canadian government programs (Communitech and Mars) introduced me to technology gurus like Brett Shellhamer (ex Open Text). whose retail and ecommerce past. Interesting to note that everyone I’ve had in an advisory role has exited out of their last role and in between opportunities when we engaged. I had been struggling with the backend platform that feeds our operations. Provide a specific example of an interaction with a mentor.
doing a deep dive on what the process was and what I wanted it to be. he’d need to actually jump in and build it with me. Of course there have been those who’ve helped for the sake of helping. When you’re in the business of taking the nuisance out of buying furniture. when I can properly compensate them. the user only benefits! How do you compensate mentors? It depends. I was both shocked and beyond impressed. then spent 23 of the most intense days ripping apart what was there and rebuilding that back end platform so that every component involved would communicate with each other. How to be a Startup Mentor 26 .level operational prowess. I have found that people naturally tend to disappear. each time taking pages and pages of notes. Either way it’s been a whole lot of thanks and gratitude to date …and in the future. who knows how many plug-ins and more logic than you could shake a stick at we’re there! In the days since its been live. Those from the government programs were compensated by that program. We do have more scheduled weekly phone sessions and are definitely meeting face to face for the important discussions one to two times monthly. when we save time on the backend operations. 2-hour sessions. We spent 3. a quick Skype chat or email. Other have equity. I can’t even count the hours saved. but in his words “the upside will be worth it!” We digested over the upcoming holidays to let it all sink in. schedules depending. 15 programs. others great furniture discounts. some a percentage of sales. 20 extensions. Everyone is busy and if you don’t get into a groove early on and stay on top of the relationship. He took the time to really understand where I was trying to go and recognized that with limited cash flow at that point. you bet I will! How frequently do you communicate? With the operational mentors it’s daily. it’s all about saving time. my train of mentors to date had never crossed that line.
I started asking around. Just like an organization has different roles. I’d set up a phone call and if that went well a faceto-face meeting. everything. If that can’t help answer my specific question or challenge. Once I had my priorities straight. finally. both of which we’re really just finding out about what they were interested in. Strategic. it’s easy to think you’ll find one or two people who will help you with everything and carve off a certain percentage for doing that. doesn’t really help in this scenario!) I tried to break down my priorities and rank them. then they’ll introduce me to someone they know who can! Interesting to note. I also used linked in. and what they had done. others are more functional. A lot of coffee’s later. What they all are however. it was evident if it would be a fit or not. is a connector which is hugely important to me. and work with mentors on a 6 month or 1 year term who could help with the more immediate needs.everyone is so different.How did you come to work with a mentor? It’s been an interesting process. and what I thought I needed wasn’t what I needed. excel at one thing like content or ops. you need different experts in your wheelhouse. a perfect blend! How to be a Startup Mentor 27 . When you first embark on the entrepreneurial journey and think about giving up equity. I have found that the best mentors over the years for me are ones who really hone in on that particular thing they are good at. What I’ve found is that’s the worst possible strategy and you can to really get creative in how you set it up. I had two of my mentors together not so long ago and this notion was completely validated when one said “My expertise stops right there” and the other said “Funny. some are intense thinkers. multi-disciplinary. I really honed in on what I needed (and let me be the first to say. What kinds of mentors have you worked with? Tough questions . that’s where mine starts” and I thought to myself. which is a great source for finding the right people.
I have started my next startup Infusd.Raj Malik alpha. Be accessible 2. Make quality introductions 5. I have also shared experiences with other mentors. Give pros/cons and use data points from your own experience 4. Don’t make the decision for the owners 3. Help give sanity checks for action plans that have major strategic implications for the business How to be a Startup Mentor 28 . but don’t sugarcoat the truth. Key items that really GREAT mentors do and should continually be doing: 1. 6. The mentors and advisors that I had at my last startup. I sold my last startup to Google (coverage here: (http://tnw. that I have now and that I am trying to be to other startups can really be the difference between success and failure. I have had mentors and I am currently a mentor.infusd.co/ Kv0AAv)).com/rajmalikdc As background. Give owners encouragement during the inevitable valleys (the peaks take care of themselves).
too.org/ How to be a Startup Mentor 29 . Here is the link to the site for our group. In one instance with a company that did not end (up) proceeding forward he had a relationship with their CEO and he actually helped push things along by asking the CEO “What will it take it to get to a decision and what are your concerns?” That was very informative into the key obstacles I needed to overcome with that potential buyer. There is a whole group of people in the DC area called Founders Corps that basically serve as mentors. giving me perspective on responding to requests from potential buyers and pushing parties to decisions. http://foundercorps. Tom was a part of that. our mentor Tom Lewis was on the phone with me navigating the delicate part of negotiations. It is organized by Jonathan Aberman here. I am now part of that.During our sales process for KikScore.
Mentors How to be a Startup Mentor 30 .
Joanne Wilson What is your name. Index Ventures andTrue Ventures. I have been investing for six years and am involved in one way or another in over 30 companies. and current position? Joanne Wilson www. angel investor. Provide a specific example of an interaction with an entrepreneur you have mentored. co-chair Womens Entrepreneur Festival What entrepreneurs have you mentored? Every entrepreneur I have funded. http://www. At the onset there were a variety of conversations about what would the business How to be a Startup Mentor 31 . Some are in the pipeline. LinkedIn URL.com/pub/joanne-wilson/10/861/b08/ blogger. There are challenges at every turn when you start a company with an idea.gothamgal. You can see my blog to see each of the companies that I have invested in. just to name two.linkedin. Each of them has been an investor in rounds of financing in start-up companies alongside me.com What VC firms or angel investors have you worked with? I have worked with countless angels and VCs. I am a sounding board and mentor for every one of them.
I am lucky to work with them every day. How did you come to work with an entrepreneur? I love entrepreneurs. working with many companies. I like to own one percent of a company from the get-go. out of the box thinkers who are trying to create something of value. How does that benefit the company while still create revenues at the same time? As an investor.look like as it grew. They are competitive and sharp. How are you compensated as a mentor? I am usually an investor in the entrepreneurs I mentor. Thinking partner. It is still a work in progress as we now are negotiating with partners on how they work with us. We talked at length about where this particular vertical was going and what made the most sense for the company to stand for. then I am usually given something extra for my time. and Functional expert. What kind of mentor are you? Connector. It depends on what is needed at that particular time. you get to see the same thing over and over and those experiences help you be a better mentor. How to be a Startup Mentor 32 . Figurehead. If I take on other roles on the board or closing a deal. They are smart. Approximately how frequently do you communicate with someone you are mentoring? Sometimes it is daily and others time once per week. They are committed to success.
September 12 .com.medcitynews. Tackk.com. 2011 present. firstname.lastname@example.org. and current position? Robert Hatta http://www. ad hoc basis How to be a Startup Mentor 33 .present.com. What entrepreneurs have you mentored? Gordon Daily. Many others on an informal. Tackk Was formerly senior marketing manager at Netflix and head of iTunes retail.efuneral.boxcast.Robert Hatta What is your name. http://www. chris@medcitynews. mid 2011 . LinkedIn URL. http://www. Is currently working as the COO at a local tech startup.com.com/profile/view?id=2284 COO.com. Europe.com. http://www. BoxCast. Mike Belsito.linkedin. Chris Seper. Has also worked at startup Findaway World (which makes the Playaway pre-loaded digital audiobook). mike@efuneral.
jumpstartinc. a company whose video streaming solution fits in the palm of your hand. Many individual angel investors.com: Early Stage Partners is an early stage venture capital firm formed with the belief that the Midwest could and would create and attract a significant number of early stage technology companies that would be attractive early stage venture capital investment opportunities.What VC firms or angel investors have you worked with? JumpStart. http://www. Hatch.com: North Coast Angel Fund (NCAF) is a contributed capital and “sidecar” pre-seed investment fund with a focus on early-stage technology investments in Ohio. I am currently working closely with Gordon at BoxCast.com: Hatch provides coaching. http://www.esplp. North Coast Angel Fund.hatch. Early Stage Partners. http://www. connections and capital to entrepreneurs who are starting or stuck.northcoastangelfund.org: JumpStart is a nonprofit venture development organization that provides intensive business assistance and sometimes direct investment to high potential. as he takes his business from a How to be a Startup Mentor 34 . seed-stage businesses to accelerate their growth and help them achieve the milestones necessary for attracting additional angel and venture financing. http://www.us. Provide a specific example of an interaction with an entrepreneur you have mentored.
How to be a Startup Mentor 35 . What we decided was to undertake a pretty significant strategic shift (though not quite a pivot). This program matches successful entrepreneurs.side project out of his basement to a full-time. we were paired through the JumpStart Mentoring Program. which I believe has paid off well for eFuneral. group mentoring model. Approximately how frequently do you communicate with someone you are mentoring? Once a month How did you come to work with an entrepreneur? In the instance of BoxCast. it has been through my work in the Cleveland community. we worked with Mike and Bryan (the founders) to look at early market reaction to their offering in order to decide how best to proceed. No equity. business executives and functional experts with young startups through a structured. engaging startups and their founders in my role as the VP of Entrepreneurial Talent at JumpStart and partner at Hatch. They are now one of the leading online resources for end-of-life planning. Elsewhere. equity-backed business. We are preparing investor presentations along with strategic and talent plans. How are you compensated as a mentor? Nothing monetary. WIth eFuneral.
and Functional expert.What kind of mentor are you? Connector. Thinking partner. How to be a Startup Mentor 36 .
cityslips.David N.com Susie Levitt Co-Founder of CitySlips Inc. and current position? David N.com/profile/view?id=2437667&trk=hb_tab_pro_top Partner.linkedin.com I mentored them both since 2009.com What VC firms or angel investors have you worked with? I have practiced securities law for twenty-seven years and worked with many different venture firms over the years. Their URL is www. katelin. Richardson & Patel LLP What entrepreneurs have you mentored? Katie Shea – Katie Co-Founder of CitySlips Inc. How to be a Startup Mentor 37 . Feldman http://www.shea@gmail. Feldman What is your name. susielevitt7@gmail. LinkedIn URL.
In addition to non-legal help. How did you come to work with an entrepreneur? Through networking groups. and I always knew it was my obligation. I assisted in helping them negotiate and draft legal commitments and contracts regarding fundraising. fan of my blog or has seen me speak. lawyer referrals. business partnership. someone who has read one of my books. intellectual property. How are you compensated as a mentor? There were some very important people who acted as my mentors through the years. Approximately how frequently do you communicate with someone you are mentoring? Once a month. What kind of mentor are you? Functional expert and Thinking partner. How to be a Startup Mentor 38 . and it is my pleasure.Provide a specific example of an interaction with an entrepreneur you have mentored. to return the favor with as much time as I am able. and distribution.
Will Fuentes and Cary Scott What is your name.com/pub/will_fuentes/11/955/12b CEO/Founder of Lemur Retail Cary Scott http://www. Hallway.linkedin. Hallway. Hallway. globox.co Cary: Sean McElerath.com/in/caryscott COO/Co-founder of Lemur Retail What entrepreneurs have you mentored? Will: Asad Ali.com Sean McElerath. and current position? Will Fuentes www. betterific. LinkedIn URL.co Speaking engagements.com Caroline Pugh. Virtual U. Hallway. virtualu. workshops How to be a Startup Mentor 39 .com Micah Weinblatt.linkedin. Betterific. Globox International.
Wants to pay it forward -. Once a month communication. How to sell that information over clientele. Twitter to build business. Interesting platform around products and services for larger companies.people have taken time to help out and want to pay it forward. Started in March. Cary: Mentor to Will. Started getting engagements from enterprise. A lot of time digging into implications. Helped Hallway How to be a Startup Mentor 40 . How use social media. Do not allow get up or down.vc Charles Street Capital India Venture Partners Michael Baring Logan Price Provide a specific example of an interaction with an entrepreneur you have mentored.What VC firms or angel investors have you worked with? Will: Piedmont Investments Fortify. April. Some time over email and phone. Helps people understand LinkedIn. Do not go up and down with entrepreneur. Figuring out what next steps are with large enterprises. Explaining enterprise sales cycle. Level set excitement. Will: Micah from Betterific. Crafting strategy to how to use it. Began thinking about big data implications. Four or five hours F2F.
One tenth to one quarter of a percent. always reach back. If partnership. Currently getting office space through Arlington economic development board. Had young designer who did not know anything about Adobe. Not concerned about burning contact. If reach out to you for help. How got a lot of business when own firm. Giving hints and sharing knowledge is a way to build up network. ten will email. How to be a Startup Mentor 41 . thought about it all the way through—provides more detailed interaction. Help grow community. Small equity is a great way to do it if leaning on them a lot. How are you compensated as a mentor? If sporadic. Out of twenty people who exchange cards. Gave him some motivation. If they meet goal. then reach back and continue to help. five will continue to reach out. then just need them to pay it forward. Approximately how frequently do you communicate with someone you are mentoring? Once a month How did you come to work with an entrepreneur? Will: Speak at a lot of events.with their UI.
Look for synergy. Knows right tools. How to be a Startup Mentor 42 . What kind of mentor are you? Functional expert. commitment to share well. Know where to look for designer or social media professional. and Thinking partner. Connector.Cary: If share my time. Give people resources.
com www.com/in/samgerace/ CEO at Veritix What entrepreneurs have you mentored? Boxcast Casentric www.boxcast.crv.com www.com www.com How to be a Startup Mentor 43 .hcp. LinkedIn URL.northcoastangelfund.matrixpartners.drapertriangle.quixby. and current position? Samuel Gerace www.esplp.Samuel Gerace What is your name.com Big River Quixby www.casentric.com What VC firms or angel investors have you worked with? Charles River Ventures Matrix Partners Highland Capital Partners Early Stage Partners Draper Triangle North Coast Angel Fund www.com www.com www.brokersavant.gobigriver.com BrokerSavant www.linkedin.com www.com www.mascotsecret.com MascotSecret www.
make sure that their sales folks can sell. Did not have a plan for hiring person who was expert in managing channel relationships. “You realize you are jumping from $3B/year to a startup with 9 months of runway.spot and recurring drivers over rest of portfolio. The most strongly correlated statistic with economic health twenty years hence is level of entrepreneurial activity today. What was gratifying: They listened. understood they were naive.Provide a specific example of an interaction with an entrepreneur you have mentored. Variety of conversations about emotional roller coaster. Also suggested doing some direct sales because of information return. Need to do supporting marketing. How spouse is going to feel when you do this? Gets reputation for discouraging people from coming to company. Boxcast: Initially presented a sales model exclusively through channel partners. explained that channel has portfolio of products and need to design program that puts it on par with other products. If you are supporting a family. Over three meetings. please realize that while we fully expect to be viable. then need to carefully manage channel . consider it now. One day a week with four portfolio companies. What is your mindset? Lot of people helped him. Give back. Emotional/psychological ups and downs: Inevitably affected by emotions of ups and downs because I’ve been there but experience is mitigated because not actor. If that concerns you. understood they did not have expertise. we are in a riskier situation. Spent one year as EIR in Jump Start. Samuel: Channel is not fully formed. Very concerned about vibrancy of Cleveland economy. Team altered plan and have received some investment.” How to be a Startup Mentor 44 .
What kind of mentor are you? Thinking partner. Approximately how frequently do you communicate with someone you are mentoring? Weekly. Functional expert. How did you come to work with an entrepreneur? The JumpStart Mentoring Program has a formal intake process. It’s a pleasure to be connected with forty to fifty people who have an entrepreneurial mindset. the directors ask for volunteers from the existing pool of mentors. How to be a Startup Mentor 45 .How are you compensated as a mentor? Emotional fulfillment and bolster economy. Connector. Energizing to see them on a monthly basis. As a new company is accepted.
Trying to find other retail venues. He and two partners also started Professional Housewares Distributors. grew into one of the nation’s largest housewares and small appliance distributors. Not just problem solving. Very. Get them to quantify it. Magazine. may be willing to make bets. in 1979. How to be a Startup Mentor 46 . Think through and build a team. Jewelry is another example. Cleveland Cavaliers owners. Financial goals and lifestyle need to work together. Dan Gilbert. custom printing: Need to understand what they want to accomplish.one of hardest working he has come across. Inc. Then do a qualitative conversation . very hardworking entrepreneurs . In Store Finance: Mother was in pet store business and found that customers cannot get credit. People who get turned down for credit and are willing to put down fifty percent still get loan . He’s been mentoring other entrepreneurs since 2001.ninety-five percent still pay out.Bob Hurwitz About: The serial entrepreneur co-founded Office Max in 1987 (which was later sold to Kmart) and is also the founding owner of Homeplace Inc.how do they want to live. Now in thirty-five pet stores. Articulate who they are and what they want.
Each mentor in the program is looking for some purpose. How to be a Startup Mentor 47 . The person who runs the JumpStart program.Can’t have both -. have to have a partner who gets it and goals have to be the same. The JumpStart Mentoring Program: This program is modeled after the MIT Venture Mentoring Service Program. If married. He’s from London and comes from an entrepreneurial family. and has done a good job putting it together. is interesting.lots of money and be home in time for kids. Anthony Hughes.
How to be a Startup Mentor 48 .vc.Want to contribute? To contribute to the next version. send email to Michael de la Maza at michael@blackbox.
He manages Immaculate Conception Ventures. raised $700K from Archimedes Labs. How to be a Startup Mentor 49 . launched. and others and was acquired by GoDaddy. His main claim to mentorship fame was advising Mdot which. Previously. in less than eight months. Mike Maples. SV Angel.About the Editor Michael de la Maza is a lean agile consultant and an EIR / startup mentor at Blackbox.vc.vc. Michael has a PhD in Computer Science from MIT and can be reached at michael@blackbox. a seed stage fund. he was a VP of Corporate Strategy at Softricity (acquired by Microsoft) and cofounder of Inquira (acquired by Oracle).
2 March 25. 2013 .How to be a Startup Mentor Version 0.
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